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Removing Parquet Flooring & Floor Adhesive – Lessons Learned

Several months ago, I started a DIY project of replacing our old parquet wood flooring with luxury vinyl plank flooring.


OMG! I truly didn’t know what I was getting myself into!

We moved into our house in 2017, and we had wondered why the previous home owners didn’t replace that 22 year old parquet. Their real estate agent had recommended new flooring to help make the house more marketable. But I think I learned why they hadn’t!

Before starting the phase of prying up parquet, I watched several YouTube videos to help me decide on the removal method. One guy had an electric floor stripper that looked great for really large projects, but I went with the economical method of a long handled floor scraper.

Actually, removing the old parquet tiles (for the most part), wasn’t too bad. My favorite tool for that phase came from Lowes — a Kobalt 44 inch L Forged Ice Scraper.

I could usually ram that ice scraper under one or two parquet tiles at a time, and the parquet would either go flying up and away, or I’d at least get a good start on prying up the parquet. That heavy ice scraper worked well! But there were some stubborn tiles. Out of 300 square feet of the stuff, I had around 6 tiles that REALLY put up a fight. In the process of removing those pieces, I usually lost a layer or two of plywood sub-floor which I later filled in with floor patch compound. When I’d hit a stubborn tile, I had to get on my knees with a pry-bar and a 3 lbs hammer (pictured next).

The next phase of removing the leftover floor adhesive (glue) was truly a bear. One of the reasons I wanted to do a post on this topic regards my frustration in finding helpful information that was specific to parquet floor adhesive removal — especially when you’re on top of a wood sub-floor (rather than concrete). I feel like I tried everything!

Pictured below are the different tools and products I tried to remove the dark/black floor adhesive (glue).


CitriStrip Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel

The orange gel has a pleasant citrus smell. The instructions called for using a paint roller to apply a layer to the floor adhesive. Next, you should wait at least 30 minutes (and up to several hours) to try and scrape away the floor adhesive. Alas, this product didn’t help very much. I tried leaving it sit for varying lengths of time. If the amount of glue on the floor was thin, this was a helpful item. But more often than not, I was fighting floor adhesive that was 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick, and thus the CitriStrip wasn’t very effective.

Klean Strip Floor Adhesive Remover

This product has very little odor and it works just like CitriStrip. It gets applied to the adhesive on the floor with a brush or paint roller, and you leave it sit for awhile before attempting to scrape it all away. You can see it applied to an area on the left in the first pic below. Alas, this product gave me a similar end result as the CitriStrip. It was probably slightly more effective than CitriStrip but not by much. In the second pic below, you can see the end result after I used a steel scraper (with significant pressure). Applying a second coat and waiting awhile was often helpful but I didn’t want to resort to that incredibly time consuming strategy.

Steel Floor Scraper

I purchased this long handled floor scraper at Lowes. It features a 60″ handle and a 4.5″ blade. The edge is intentionally dull. It would probably be handy for dealing with carpet padding or tack strips on a sub-floor (especially concrete flooring), but for the dark floor adhesive I was facing, this tool was absolutely worthless. Moving on…

Goof Off Remover

The Goof Off remover was effective. After leaving it on the floor adhesive for five or ten minutes, it softened the hard glue and definitely made it easier to scrape away the old adhesive. The big problem though was the odor. The directions recommend that it only be used in a well ventilated area, and given how large of an area I had to take care of, this was not going to work out. I applied Goof Off to a small area shown below (at the middle-top of the first picture). The spot scraped away fairly clean.

Floor Buffer with Scrape-A-Way attachment

After exhausting the options above, I decided to rent a floor buffer with a scraping attachment. I felt pretty confident after watching this YouTube video that this would do the trick! So I rented it for a day and quickly learned the basics of how to control a floor buffer. It’s definitely not intuitive! But it’s not hard to learn.

The non-intuitive lesson is that to turn it left, you press the handle down some. To turn it right, you pull the handle up somewhat.

Alas, the end result was quite disappointing.

After a couple hours of use (which included going over the same area many, many times), the above was the end result. The floor buffer/scrape did help to reduce the height and thickness of the existing floor adhesive. But I still had areas that were somewhat thick.

Heat Gun and Scraper

After trying all of the above, I thought I’d try a heat gun next. Harbor Freight has a couple of good deals on heat guns, and I chose their $20 gun which offers two different heat levels. I tested this tactic on a small area as shown in the picture here.

I started with just 20 or 30 seconds of heat over a small area, and then I’d turn to my paint scraper. The heat gun was effective at softening the floor adhesive but it remained very tacky and quite reluctant to pull away from the wood floor.

In the picture above, I was able to remove a majority of the glue adhesive that you see at the very top of the pic. But I found the process of heating and then slowly scraping as another frustrating option. I didn’t rule this technique out completely, but I decided to make it another ‘last resort’ tactic.

Warner Steel Paint Scraper

The only tool that I felt I could truly rely on was my Warner steel paint scraper. It features a two-sided steel blade that is roughly 2.4 inches wide. It required a fair amount of force, but it was effective. There are paint scrapers that are shaped like putty knives but for adhesive this hard, it’s definitely best to have a scraper that you pull rather than push.

In the end, I just had to rely on fresh blades and a lot of elbow grease to scrape away at the denser areas of floor adhesive. The goal wasn’t total removal of all traces of glue, but rather a nice flat surface without significant ridges. So if I had to do it over again, I’d still rent a floor buffer with a scraper attachment to have it remove as much adhesive as possible, and then I’d turn to the Warner steel paint scraper to work at the thicker areas that still remained.

You can see a few of our before and after pics here, and there’s also a post on my lessons learned from installing luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring!



  1. Ubi Dubium

    How does all that time and effort and sweat and buying tools and chemicals compare with just giving up and replacing the subflooring? I don’t do big home improvement projects myself, so I don’t really know.

    • Logan

      Great question! Part way into this small nightmare, I wondered if I should have gone that route. And if I had a pickup truck for easy transport of new plywood, I think I would have been more tempted to do that. But I knew that would have made the kitchen more inaccessible during the project, especially since my wife and daughter were in that area so much. If I was dealing with a square or rectangular living space, I would have been more inclined to just replace or lay down new sub-flooring.

      • Kathy

        Mine lifted from a waterheater flood but the cleanup company dried it/dehumidified until it sucked back down. Now that was an easy lift then: heat of dehumids and water. What would possess someone to glue down on osb?!!
        Can you just power sand/grind down parquet wood remnants left behind and cover with lauan over beatup osb all over instead? Then lay down new hardwood? Asking for a friend;)

    • Logan

      Nice! I wish I had seen that before the project. Having the ability to put foot pressure on the tool looks ideal

  2. Iwatcher

    So I just did this in my basement (concrete) It was 20+ year old vinyl tile. I rented the EDDY floor scraper from homedepot and it removed the tiles super easy. But it left all the glue. I bought and used the Sentinal 747 cleaner. It is an oil based cleaner with super low odor. I basically spent two evening on my knees scraping the glue off. It worked pretty good but unfortunately it soaked into the concrete (oil) and darkened the concrete. I was hoping to do acid stained concrete but might just end of doing tile. Thanks for your post.

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